So, it’s time for my last diary entry. I’m heading to the West Coast in just under a week, but things have been winding down here already since late April. There’s an end of the year party this Saturday, so this will make for a natural ending to my series of diaries. However, I will be back in North Carolina towards the end of June, for the Carolina Metaphysics Workshop, and I’ll be sure to report about that.
There isn’t an awful lot to report, since I’ve mainly been revising and writing up some of my papers, but there are a few things that I want to mention. The first of those is something that has been all over the media here in North Carolina pretty much right from when we arrived in January: the proposed amendment to the state constitution. Now, this doesn’t involve me in any way directly — obviously I don’t have the right to vote here — but the whole ordeal has had so much visibility and political significance that I feel I should comment on it somehow. I first learned about the proposed amendment when I saw banners calling people to vote against the amendment. A quick search revealed what it was about: introducing a ban for same-sex marriages into the state constitution. Of course, same-sex marriages were already illegal, but the amendment makes it much more difficult to ever change that. Now, as you may have heard, the amendment passed, with 61.05% voting in favour. I was rather surprised about the result, but that’s largely because Chapel Hill is at the very heart of the most liberal area of the state; most of the surrounding counties voted against.
I’m not going go into the argument for and against the amendment (but see the previous link for a summary). What is more interesting to me anyway are the political implications. The most obvious of these is the upcoming presidential election. Interestingly, Obama waited until today to announce his stand on the whole same-sex marriage issue, and he explicitly sides with the LGBT community. This is of course a bit of a turnaround for Obama, and I suspect that it’s primarily a strategic move to support his campaign — Biden was already known to support same-sex marriage. It’s a gamble, as while the majority of Americans apparently support same sex-marriage, it is nevertheless banned in 31 states. Well, I’m not one to get into politics, but what is surprising to me about the situation is that while nearly all other countries in the world are moving forward on this issue, the US is actually moving backward.
Leaving that issue behind, I did want to say something about my recent talk at Duke University in Durham. I was originally scheduled to give the talk at the end of March, but due to sad circumstances which I mentioned in my previous diary entry, the talk got postponed. I’m pleased that we were able to reschedule, as it was a pleasure to give a talk at Duke. My talk was on ‘Quantification and Ontological Realism’ — basically a critical note on Ted Sider’s recent book. You can find the Prezi slides here. I haven’t posted the draft yet, but I’m working on a short Analysis-style piece based on this talk, and I’d welcome comments if anyone is willing to read it (drop me a message or leave a comment). I had a decent audience at Duke, and there was a good discussion afterwards, involving Sara Bernstein, Alex Rosenberg, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Ferejohn, David Sanford, and others. I won’t go into the details here — I’ve written about the topic on the blog before — but I may post the draft at some point. I am also planning on a popular science inspired post about the Higgs boson, which I used as one of my examples in the talk (and elsewhere). Myself and Elizabeth were also wined and dined at one of the top restaurants in the area, Nana’s — where the chef improvised a vegan menu for us. Thanks to Duke folks for their hospitality and the interesting discussion!
Well, I don’t have much else to report. In brief, it has been way too hot here, I’ve tried to do a little bit of work, and I’ve gotten back to decent running mileage (managed a 73.4 mile or 118km week last week, my highest mpw this year). Today I’m not feeling great though, hopefully I’m not getting ill again. I’ve effectively said my goodbyes to the Carolina North Forest, where I’ve done the bulk of my running (the recent Philosopher’s Way race took place there as well). Other than that I’ve been getting through the collection of craft beers that I accumulated whilst here (some beer reviews coming up soon), and I’ve fiddled around with this new WordPress theme, which is fortunately slowly finding its final shape (but I still need to fix a few things).
Next Tuesday I’m off to Seattle and will be heading straight down to California from there. From May 21-28 I’ll be in San Francisco (let me know if you’re in the area!) and after that it’s a road trip with stops at least in Yellowstone, Colorado, Utah (Zion), and a bunch of national parks — I’ll try to report from the road. Before that I hope to get a post up about my previous road trip in Deep South, I’m just trying to get through the photos!